One of the podcasts I enjoy listening to on my morning walks is “The Professional Noticer” by Andy Andrews. Andy’s podcast is “built around Common Sense, Wisdom, and Laughter.” Andy calls himself a Professional Noticer – someone who pays attention to the great individuals and ideas all around him and then shares that with the rest of us.
This morning on my walk, I was thinking about this. How am I a noticer in life? How can I be a noticer who can bring out the best in others and even myself? What will I “catch” when I begin to notice more. How will my eyes be open to things I haven’t noticed before? How can I notice more of the positive people and things all around me? I certainly don’t need to focus on the negative. And neither do you.
Would you like to be able to “tune” your awareness and mind on the positive life around you? You can do it. In fact, I bet you already have done it before.
When you’ve shopped for and then bought a new car, didn’t you start noticing that car model all around you? Prior to your search and then sale, you probably didn’t pay much attention to that as you drove back and forth to work or to the store. But now that you’re in your new car, you see them everywhere.
There is something at work. It’s called the Baader-Meinof effect. This happens “when your awareness of something increases. This leads you to believe it’s actually happening more, even if that’s not the case.”
Years ago, I challenged a group of managers at work to start noticing yellow cars on the road. For weeks after this challenge, they reported “suddenly” seeing yellow cars. But did those yellow cars really, suddenly appear? No! But their awareness of seeing yellow cars increased and they started noticing them. I then challenged them to notice what our customers were saying in conversations so we could help them save money, make money, save time, and protect their assets better. And my managers did!
So how can we apply the Baader-Meinof effect in our day-to-day lives? How can we become, as Andy Andrews calls it, professional noticers? Try some of these ideas on:
The Team You Lead
Are you focused more on assigning tasks to your team vs noticing how they approach their work, how their family life affects their work life, how their health either helps them or hurts them etc.? Have you noticed subtle comments in a coaching session that gives you a peek into how they feel about themselves, their work, their impact?
Take time in your next coaching session (even it is virtual) to notice something differently than you have in the past. If you are virtual right now, tune up your listening skills. Don’t be afraid to ask, “tell me more about that” if you hear something that you notice might help you help them move forward in their development. Notice personal changes such as a death in the family, moving into a new home, changes in relationships, kids graduating, etc. You can celebrate and understand your team far better when you pay attention to what may seem like the “little” things.
Notice their results and celebrate their wins. Ask them if they noticed how they accomplished their goals. Coach them to see those opportunities and actions that got them there.
As you network in your community (again, even if it is virtually), notice what is happening in the lives of your community leaders. I find the best tool to use is LinkedIn. If a connection (or even a 2nd or 3rd level connection) has accomplished a milestone, engage with them to share a congratulatory comment. This tells them you noticed!
Read their content. Share their content if you feel it is appropriate. Promote their business. Noticers do more than merely notice. They take action. Action that adds value to the other person.
Years ago when my kids were in the middle of their elementary years, we were eating at a local restaurant. I noticed an elderly couple sitting a few tables away from us. I called over their waitress and asked that she allow me to pay for their meal and to keep it anonymous. My daughter, I think she was a 4th grader, seemed appalled by this. “Dad, do you know them?!” I said I did not. “You can’t do that!”
“I certainly can. What I’m doing is a random act of kindness. You guys know what that is, right?” They both said they had talked about that in school. I then asked how do they think the couple will feel when they know that someone paid for their meal that day. My son said, “I’d feel great.” “Now you know why I’m doing this,” I said.
It is amazing what we can do for others when we notice others around us. The sales person at Best Buy who just got yelled at by an unreasonable customer. The Downs Syndrome bagger at Krogers who does his job with an ever-present smile on his face. The barista who always remembers your drink even though you don’t remember her name. The young man who helps an elderly woman who just dropped something and she is now embarrassed.
You’ve witnessed scenes like this, I’m sure. Noticers notice. But noticers can take it one step further. Say something. Walk up to that sales person and assure them that not everyone will be cranky today and that they handled themselves with dignity. Tell that grocery bagger you appreciate them. Look your barista in the eyes and say “thank you” and use their name (I bet they are wearing a name tag). Walk up to that young man and let them you know you noticed his kindness.
For me, I’ve taken in a step further. My wife started a fun little game for us that I’ve expanded on. She created an engaging way to tell me she loves me. You can read about that here (https://smilyspreadlove.com/home/). I have created “coins” that I carry with me. If I notice someone doing a random act of kindness or someone needing a lift in their day, I give them one of the coins. I’ve paid for someone’s McDonald’s in the drive-thru and asked the cashier to give the coin to the driver behind me. I want to encourage them to either spread some love to someone else or know in that moment that they matter.
People love noticers. It validates them. It makes their hearts visible to the world. It makes them – for that moment – believe they matter – and they do!
As we wrap up this crazy year, determine to be a noticer in 2021 and beyond. Tune your mind to become of aware of the great people and things around you. Build someone up. Add value to someone. Spread love.
On this early morning (4:51 am) of September 11, I woke up with this on my mind.
Tony Jeary first introduced me to an idea, a concept that changes lives. This idea helps people become better. Goals become focused. Behaviors take on new meaning. This is not only practical – it is doable.
More of. Less of.
Think about a goal you have:
- Monthly sales goal
- Weight loss
Now that you’ve got that one goal in mind, ask yourself, “What can I do more of to move me closer to my goal?” Then ask, “What do I need to do less of that is hindering me from achieving my goal?” Now go do it!
It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? We already know what we need to do more of to hit sales goals (more calls, more follow-ups/follow-throughs). We already know what we need more of to become healthier (drink more water, exercise, eat more veggies). And you can list what you need to do less of to develop yourself into becoming the better version of where you are today (i.e. less TV?). And you have a lot of experience already to know what you need more of and less of to make your relationships thrive.
Let’s broaden this thought out. My country…our world…needs more of something, and it all needs less of something.
What I woke up to was this: more love. This is not new. This is not radical. This is and has been the answer forever. And we all know how to do more love.
- Smile – let your spirit brighten someone else’s day.
- Laugh – it’s healing.
- Care – do something for your elderly neighbor. Buy someone’s meal at a restaurant (without them knowing it was you). Volunteer.
What do you think would happen in our world if everyone did one random act of kindness today? Just one. More love. That’s what would happen.
So, why don’t we? Perhaps we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we become blind to others. Maybe we are so inwardly focused on our own fears, worries, anxieties that we cannot see how others struggle. Perhaps we need less focus on ourselves and more attention on those around us.
Today I challenge myself – and you – to do more of something that moves you towards love in your part of the world.
- Smile more.
- Tell someone you appreciate them. Literally, tell them and be specific.
- Be helpful.
- Compliment more.
- Find the good in someone else.
- Say “thank you” often.
- Email/Call someone you have not been in contact with. Tell them you have been thinking about them.
- Do a random act of kindness.
In my country, today is a somber day. We remember a day filled with hate, destruction, and murder. But we also remember more about our heroes who gave their lives so others lived. We remember a city that rebuilt itself as our nation rebuilt its hope. We remember buildings filled with people who loved others, helped others, and inspired others in the face of unspeakable horror. We remember.
And today, we do more. We love…more. And one by one, person by person, this love changes our nation and our world.
Many of you read articles, blog posts, books or listen to a TED talk and you are inspired. You learn something new. You actually make changes in your professional/personal life as a result. Does it all end there…with you?
My tip for today is take this one step further. Why else would benefit from knowing or getting exposed to this information?
- Your team?
- Your colleagues?
- Another leader in your community?
- Your family?
- Your mentor or mentee?
Of course learning and developing as a leader is critically important. Take it one more step and share what you have learned with someone else. Email them a link to that blog post. Send them a podcast link. Take a photo of a powerful paragraph and email that to them. Share what you’ve learned over coffee or lunch.
Some folks will be receptive to this. Others will not. You’ll learn who is open to this. Focus on adding value. This sharing – it is about them, not about you. You could help someone launch something incredible in their life!
Are you a note-taker? If not, I encourage you to develop the habit of taking notes. “You mean in meetings?” That’s one place. But there’s more times to take notes:
- Reading a book
- Preparation for a meeting
- Video content you’re listening to
- Podcast you’re listening to
- When an idea hits you and you don’t want to forget it
- Reading a blog
- Reading a magazine
You get the idea. Where do you record your notes? That’s up to you. Carry a small notebook to capture ideas. Use a journal. Use your smart phone/tablet/laptop. Use talk-to-text to capture in-the-moment ideas. Just capture your thoughts.
But here’s the tip that makes the most difference for me. I personalize my note-taking.
When I read a book, I’m a highlighter. When I read, I have a highlighter and a pen with me. I highlight a passage I want to remember. I often write a note in the margin that helps me connect dots (from this thought to a future action).
And once I complete reading the book, I often go back and write in my journal what I learned from that book. So, how do I personalize the notes? I put them in first person even if the author did not write that thought in that way. Here’s an example:
James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits (I highly recommend reading this book and then following him in social media). In the chapter, “How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)”, he writes about “new identities” in light of moving away from the person (habits and all) to the person we want to be.
He asks this question: Who is the type of person that could get the outcome you want? In my journal, this would be written: Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want? Other examples:
I become my habits.
The most effective way to change my habits is to focus not on what I want to achieve, but on who I wish to become.
When I make a specific plan for when and where I will perform a new habit, I am more likely to follow through.
I do this because I want to internalize what I’m learning. Making it personal moves new information and ideas to my heart and to my mind and making the likelihood of me following through much more successful. I create a conversation, of sorts, between me and the author as though she/he is talking to me. I pay attention to the content more. I put more of what I am learning into action.
Next time you take notes – especially when you need to take action on those notes – personalize them. It’s one way you can coach yourself to become better.
Pablo Casals, the famous cellist, composer, conductor, once said (modified a bit):
“Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other person exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another person like you… You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. You must cherish one another. You must work—we must all work—to make this world worthy of each of us.”
Do you approach your day with this mindset? What would change if you did?
I’m inspired. Oh, how our world would change for the better if we all worked “to make the world worthy of each of us.”
You are a marvel.
As I stated in my last post, I have been reading Change the Way You See Everything. In fact, I just finished it during my lunch break today. This is probably the fourth time reading through this incredible book.
In the closing pages I read today, authors Cramer & Wasiak challenged me to change the way I see situations. What is the current situation right now on April 27, 2020? The ongoing quarantine due to the corona virus. The economy of the world is crippled. Millions in the US are unemployed – and this happened in a mere matter of weeks. Small businesses are closing never to reopen. There is a lot of depression, fear, and despair.
If we’re honest, most of us focus on that last paragraph. The 24/7 news channels feed viewers a never-ending diet of gloom and doom. It seems as if everything is focused on what has gone wrong.
But what if we could see this differently?
Think back to September 11, 2001. When that day happened, I’m sure many thought New York would be forever devastated. But Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided this vision:
“Tomorrow New York is going to be here…and we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”
And New York did rebuild. One year ago, I stood at the World Trade Center Memorial. I walked the streets of the city. It has rebuilt. Our nation became stronger and more vigilant.
How did that all happen? How will we climb out of the hole we were thrown into these past few months? Can we? Yes, we can!
Cramer & Wasiak challenge us to apply the 80-20 rule…in reverse. “Instead of focusing 80% of your attention on problems and 20% on opportunities, concentrate 80% on opportunities and 20% correcting what’s wrong.”
So what are your opportunities?
- Devoting time to invest in your personal growth and development.
- Investing time to discover a better/more efficient way to get work done (hey, you already changed where you work – focus on how you work!)
- Ask, “How are my customers interacting with me now? What is working with this? What small tweaks can I make that would make it even easier for my customers to do business with me?”
- Ask, “How can I become more financially fit during this situation so I can better be prepared for the future? Who can I turn to for help with this?” (locally, here).
- Ask: “Who can I help right now? Who needs encouragement, support, or a friend?”
“…what if you could reach into the depth of that problem and extract a treasure – a wealth of information that could propel the situation forward in a way that benefits everyone involved, exponentially!”
Cramer & Wasiak offer solid advice:
- Get a new vision of your world today.
- “Turn yourself on by sharpening your vision” of what could be.
- “Link your passion, vision, and skill set with the strengths and capabilities of those you have attracted into your circle of influence.”
- Change how you think about problems and set-backs.
This is not an impossible situation we are all in. But those that will rise to the next level and challenge will be those who focus on the 80% of the opportunities this time is presenting to us.
“How can this be the best problem we’ve ever had?”
Scenario: You witness a situation at work and it is clearly evident that this will lead to a culture-killer for your company. What do you do?
Most people do one of 3 things:
1. DO NOTHING. Look the other way. Ignore what you’re seeing, hearing, and feeling.
2. JOIN IN. This is the mob mentality. “A riot is an ugly thing…I think it’s high time we have one!” (Young Frankenstein). This only fuels the fires of negativity.
3. PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT the culture.
Easy. It’s just as easy to not act as it is to act. Just like losing weight or exercising or reading or being intentional in a relationship….it’s easy to do something and it’s not easy to do something
Fear. We fear taking a stand. We fear retribution from our peers (“who does he think he is?!”)
Deflection. “It’s not my job. I’m not a manager, VP, CEO…”
Since when is protecting our culture the sole responsibility of a supervisor?
Self-worth. “Who am I to say something/take a stand?”
Too many times, we don’t take a stand because of what we say to ourselves.
- “I’m just a line worker/entry-level accountant/etc. I have no authority.”
- “People will make fun or treat me differently. I don’t want to risk that.”
- “I’ve only been with the company for 6 months. I don’t know enough to speak up.”
- “I’m an idiot. I should shut up.”
Please realize that there are people who applied for your position and did not get it. YOU are in! YOU made it. YOU are worthy! Your company believes in YOU.
But in order for your company’s culture to grow and be cultivated, each team member has to make the right decision at those critical moments.
- And every time you and I stand up to PROMOTE, PRACTICE, AND PROTECT our culture, we build momentum.
- And when momentum builds, it becomes the norm.
- We raise our standards.
- We don’t settle.
- We refuse to live to the lowest common denominator.
- The culture becomes alive.
- WE become the culture.
Today is Valentine’s Day. Here in the US, that means there will be lots of flowers and chocolates and cards given. Restaurants will be packed with lovers.
All this brought to mind a verse from the Bible. It is in Romans 12:10:
“Love one another in brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Now, you may not be a person a faith. That’s ok. Stay with me here.
I often tell people who ask that I like my job and love the people I work with. It’s true. I’m not perfect in this, but most days and in most moments, it’s true. It’s what drives me to serve them, to push them to be their best, to cheer them on.
But I want to focus on the second part of this verse – “Outdo one another in showing honor.”
What would happen to your company culture if the majority of the team did exactly this? I know many of us seem to be in competitions with each other within our companies. People strive to be the top dog in sales. Project leaders are looking to excel more than the last project manager.
But what if we all started striving to “outdo one another in showing honor.” How would conversations sound differently? How would meetings be run? How would conversations about someone who is not present sound (would those conversations stop?)? How would even casual interactions change for the better? How would your company’s culture change?
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you and me to work to outdo one another in showing honor. I think this could have a positive, systemic effect in your workplace. It can become a place where we honor, respect, and appreciate each other.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We are fast approaching 2020. Many of us are looking ahead and formulating new goals and direction. Resolutions will be made. Later they will be broken.
What causes us to do this year after year? And when so many of us fail to follow through?
- Lack of discipline?
- Incorrect goals?
- This is more than wishful thinking?
Why do we even set goals for ourselves?
- To feel better about ourselves?
- To make others value us more?
- Societal pressure?
- Advertising pressure?
Let’s look at health goals. Millions of people right now are thinking about their health goals for 2020. Losing weight. Eating healthy foods. Exercise. Reduce medication. Those are all great and noble goals.
But for millions, these goals will be a fading thought very early in the year.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February.
People will lose the desire to do what it takes to meet their goals. A warm cinnamon roll on a frigid February morning will win the day, and the slippery slope from that fresh baked goodness will loom large. Within days, health goals can be obliterated. “Oh, well, next year.”
Look back on your life 1 year ago. Reflect on this:
- How am I healthier today?
- How have I grown as a person, parent, spouse, leader in the past year?
- How has my spiritual life developed?
- How has my financial wellness improved?
“Well, ummm, I guess I’m really the same as I was back then. Actually, I’ve been this way for years.”
See, becoming better is not simply a matter of desire. Who doesn’t want to become healthier? More in tune spiritually? A better mom/dad/person? More secure financially?
We all do.
So what’s missing when we set goals and resolutions yet fail to follow-through so quickly?
What we need is TRANSFORMATION.
Let’s break this definition down:
- Profound – very great or intense.
- Radical – very different from the usual, sometimes to the extreme
- Change – not the same as before
- New direction – turn around and head on a different path
- More effective – results, better results, life-changing results
Allow me some liberty here. When I think of TRANSFORMATION, I think of the word repentance. When someone repents, there are 2 actions required:
- Turning away from something.
- Turning to something/someone.
To truly change your life (health, relationships, development, finances, etc.), this sense of repentance needs to be applied.
Health: I am turning from foods that harm me. I am turning to foods that heal.
Relationships: I am turning from behaviors that harm others. I am turning to behaviors that build bridges and create peace.
Finances: I am turning from undisciplined spending. I am turning to creating a plan to move me towards freedom.
Personal Development: I am turning from haphazardly moving through life. I am turning to intentional ways to grow.
Do you see the difference?
Let’s explore how TRANSFORMATION can happen in your life. Today, it is December 21, 2019. Think ahead to December 21, 2020.
- How will you feel if you truly TRANSFORMED your life?
- What kind of results would you realize?
- How will your health, spiritual life, relationships, finances, etc. all become better as a result of TRANSFORMATION?
- See yourself having improved these key areas of life. Visualize you being in a “profound, radically” different place. Do you like what you see? Doesn’t this excite you?
Fact: you can TRANSFORM your life. You can! In the posts to come, let’s learn and discover how TRANSFORMATION can become possible in our lives. I need it! I bet you do, too.
In the posts that follow, let’s learn together how we can TRANSFORM our lives. We’ll explore the TRANSFORMATION definition, creating habits, the power of documenting your progress in a journal, accountability, the idea that TRANSFORMATION is not a one-and-done proposition…and so much more. I’ll great resources that I’ve read/listened to from great people.
Do you want to remain the same person you’ve been for years (decades)? I don’t. True change requires TRANSFORMATION.
Join me in the journey! Let’s become better.